Google and Sony stand out today for a promising display of climate advocacy. The two Cool IT Leaderboard companies have signed onto a declaration calling on the European Union to set a 30% greenhouse gas reduction target.

The joint declaration bears the tagline, “There is no high-carbon low-cost future for Europe,” and calls on the EU to increase its greenhouse gas reduction target to 30% of 1990 levels by 2020. The sign-on letter lists the following reasons to augment policy conditions and spur low-carbon investment:

  1. Climate action will boost economic growth and create new jobs
  2. The EU needs the right policies to maintain its leadership and competitiveness in the global low carbon economy
  3. The EU must invest in its energy security through greater low carbon energy investments
  4. The EU needs to invest now for tomorrow’s technology and infrastructure to avoid highcarbon ‘lock-in’ and the financial risk of needing to engineer a rapid shift away from such stranded assets
  5. The recession has made emissions cuts easier and cheaper but market incentives are required to spur action
  6. ‘Carbon leakage’ should be evaluated and concerns addressed based on real facts and data about competitiveness

 

Global IT brands should view supporting a higher bar for European climate policy as both economically and globally beneficial. The EU is already on track to be 20% below 1990 emission levels due to the economic downturn and previous efforts, and greater ambition to reduce greenhouse pollution across Europe will trigger a stronger European market for IT climate solutions. It will also hopefully put some fresh wind in the sagging sails of a global climate agreement.

This declaration is an important departure from the lobbying efforts of BusinessEurope, an association that has pushed against a 30% target and claims to represent the views of all of its business members with this position. Intel, IBM and Microsoft are each named as members of the Advisory & Support Group of Business Europe, noted as having "special status within BusinessEurope".

Today’s show of support from Google and Sony Europe for the higher target sets an example for their peers, which have either aligned themselves on the wrong side of this issue or need to be more vocal in differentiating their views from those of representing trade organizations.

Serge Foucher, Sony Europe's Executive Vice President, is quoted in the letter:

Sony Europe fully supports the manifesto being delivered to the European institutions. To move beyond a 20% by 2020 target will demonstrate leadership and stimulate greater action and innovation in tackling the environmental challenge across Europe. We believe that this will in turn help develop long-term sustainable economic development and job creation... We trust the Commission takes this opportunity to keep the region at the forefront of low carbon technology growth and we look forward to their response.

The complete list of mostly European signatories includes Acciona, Alstom, Asda, Atkins, Barilla, BNP Paribas, BSkyB, Capgemini, Centrica, Climate Change Capital, Crédit Agricole, DHV Group, Elopak, Eneco, F&C Asset Management, GE Energy, Johnson  Controls Inc, Kingfisher, Google, Marks and Spencer, Nike, Philips Lighting, SKAI Group of Companies, Sony Europe, Standard Life, Swiss Re, Tryg, Thames Water, and Vodafone. 

There should be signatures from more of Google and Sony's IT peers on this letter. But particularly Microsoft, IBM and Intel, which, as many of the above-mentioned companies have done, need to clearly establish their difference of opinion with those trying to represent them in blocking progress on climate.

Update: Although Cisco did not sign onto the October 13th letter, the company had previously come out as a proponent of the 30% target. At the Brussels Economic Forum in May, the V.P. of Cisco France spoke on a panel called "Tackling global warming - An opportunity for Europe" and  publicly stated the company's support. The video of his presentation and the Q&A is available here. The company reiterated its position at a conference in Brussels this week.